Millions of iPhone users are already using RCS, but they don’t know it

Aamir Siddiqui/Android Authority

Turkish lire; Dr

  • Millions of Japanese iPhone users have been sending text messages via RCS for years now.
  • This is thanks to the downloadable Message+ app created by three major Japanese telecommunications companies.
  • Apple is set to add RCS support to its Messages app later this year, bringing RCS to millions of iOS users outside Japan.

Among some demographics, there’s a terrible stigma attached to anyone who texts from an Android phone. This is because text messages between Android phones and iPhones are sent via SMS, which is not only insecure, but also lacks many features that many iPhone users are accustomed to. To combat the stigma of the green bubble, Google has been pushing Apple to “get the message,” meaning adding support for RCS messaging, which it will finally do later this year. While the vast majority of iPhone users will get their first experience with RCS Messages with the upcoming iOS 18 update, millions have already (unknowingly) enjoyed its capabilities.

RCS stands for Rich Communication Services, and is considered by many in the telecom industry to be the successor to SMS/MMS. It is an advanced messaging protocol that extends character limits, supports high-quality media sharing, enables group messaging, and allows showing read receipts, among other features. These are basic features for any modern messaging service, which explains why some iPhone users refuse to text Android users via SMS.

Because RCS is a protocol and not an application, there is no single client or server that handles every message sent between devices. Individual carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon had to build their own RCS-compatible servers and RCS messaging apps, but these apps were never made available to iOS users. Although these three carriers have all agreed to switch to Google’s Jibe server for RCS messaging, they have not made their apps available on iOS, which means only Android users can text other Android users via RCS. But this is not the case in Japan.

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In May 2018, three of Japan’s largest telecom companies, KDDI, NTT DOCOMO, and SoftBank, launched Message+. Message+ is a messaging app that comes preloaded on many Android smartphones sold in Japan, but is also available on iPhones through the Apple App Store. According to GSMAthe industry body that sets the RCS standard, Message+ is built to the GSMA’s RCS standards, “enabling a secure, feature-rich alternative to SMS for person-to-person communications.”

The app supports many of the standard features that RCS enables, such as read receipts, high-quality media sharing, file sharing, group messaging, and much higher character limits. It also, according to the GSMA, supports RCS Business Messaging (RBM), allowing Japanese consumers to “communicate directly with a range of brands and services, for example allowing them to engage with virtual assistants to book flights, purchase goods and make restaurant reservations.” “.

+ Message vs SMS via AU

Mishal Rahman / Android Authority

Although Line is the most popular messaging app in Japan, Message+ seems to be very popular as well. The GSMA, citing market research firm Mobilesquared, expects the number of active Message+ users to rise to 17.5 million by the end of 2020. In a Q2 2022 earnings call, Synchronoss Technologies, the company handling the Message+ backend, said He said The app is available on “more than 25 million” devices in Japan. It’s not clear exactly how many of these 25 million devices are running iOS, but since Apple was reported by IDC to have a 52% market share in the country, it’s likely several million iPhone users. in Japan have sent or received an RCS message at least once.

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Apple will bring RCS to its Messages app later this year, giving iPhone users outside Japan the opportunity to text Android users via RCS. iPhone users outside Japan can technically chat with their Android friends through RCS thanks to Beeper, but the app requires them to already own an Android phone, so it’s not the same as using a local client.

Meanwhile, Android users in Japan may soon be able to ditch the Message+ app for Google Messages, as Google announced late last month that it was “working with KDDI and other partners to bring an updated messaging experience to Japan with RCS in Google Messages.” Google has struck a deal with the three Japanese carriers behind Message+ to migrate Android users to Google Messages, which will soon support texting for iPhone users via RCS once Apple implements support for it in iOS 18.

Thanks to Discord user LaNonymous for the tip!

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